Beauty / IN THE BAG

Model Manahou Mackay on beauty as an extension of spirituality

manahou mackay

Te Manahou Mackay is, currently, Australia's supernova. With a shock of platinum hair that can be spotted from miles and a smile that could melt a thousand hearts, it is easy to tell why our industry is nursing an obsession with the Māori model. At face value, any person could recognise her beauty. It is what's underneath that goes the distance. Meeting Mackay is like going on a date you never knew you wanted to be on. She asks about your hopes and dreams, where your favourite galleries are situated, what you want to be when you grow up - who you want to be. She asks about your family and your tendencies, a slew of undivided attention, met with an energetic presence like no other.

With a moral compass that shakes the ground she walks upon and a heart of gold, it is difficult not to fall in love with Mackay. She is gracious, ambitious, thoughtful, and present. Most of all, she is here.

Now, off the back of a monumentally successful show season at AAFW by anyone's measure, Mackay is taking a moment of pause amid her catapult to success to reflect on how far she's come, and offer RUSSH some notes on beauty in the meantime.


manahou mackay

What is your morning beauty routine?

In the shower I start by cleansing with Tatcha Rice Wash, exfoliating my body with Geranium Scrub by Aesop, brushing my teeth and washing my hair with whatever Richi Grisilo is telling me to use. Right now it is System Professional. I then pat dry and begin my skin care routine, The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid first, I like to try new serums, right now it's Emma Lewisham Skin Reset, then the Buly Vide Poche Eye Serum followed by Pericone MD Firming and Hydrating Moisturiser.
Next I apply Foile Coconut Oil on my body, and apply hair products. Usually a leave in and a styling spray. I have a million hair products since going platinum so it changes every day.


What is your night beauty routine?

My night time routine begins with lighting candles, putting on a headband and dressing gown. My skin care routine in the evening is the same. I drink tea and lie around watching Netflix.


Describe what you do for a living? What does a typical day look like for you?

At this period of my life I am modelling full time. Some days are filled with appointments meeting new creatives and brands, some days are spent in the studio shooting 100 outfits, some days are spent on planes and in cars getting to incredibly remote locations, some days are spent crouched underneath an umbrella in 40 degree heat with an instafreeze pack taped to my back, and some days are spent at home introspecting, manifesting and learning how to continue cultivating a colourful and fulfilling life.

Is beauty ever an act of resilience for you?

Beauty to me is an act of spirituality. Care and adornment of oneself is an affirmation of our divinity and the divinity of existence.

What is the supermarket/ drug store/ chemist beauty product(s) that you use and love?

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid, The Ordinary Rosehip Seed Oil.


manahou mackay

What is your main form of beauty body maintenance? What products do you use on your body?

Aesop Geranium Leaf Body Scrub, Foile Coconut Oil.


How do you express yourself through beauty?

I am quite experimental with how I choose to adorn myself. I always reach for styles that align with the energy I would like to cultivate and take with me through my day or night. Stylistic choices are our first point of communication with society, I like to create a narrative.


What do you do when your body needs to recover?

Solitude is foundational to maintaining a centered state of mind. Spending the day alone drinking coffee, listening to music and getting some sunshine always puts me back together.


You’re tired/ hungover/ rundown: what is your beauty hack?

Infrared sauna + green juice.

manahou mackay

What is the one non-negotiable in your beauty routine?

Drinking gallons upon gallons of water.


What kind of change would you like to see in the beauty industry?

Still now, many friends and models of colour speak of horror stories when it comes to hair and makeup artists not having the knowledge to cater to their needs. This is an unacceptable and very prevalent issue in our industry. This coincides with a lack of representation behind the lens where artists of colour are not afforded the same opportunities as their peers. I would urge companies and publications to be more proactive about diversifying their creative teams.


What is the best advice on beauty you’ve received?

Truth is beauty.


What is the best advice on health you’ve received?

Don't forget to take your Lucrin.


What is the one product you can’t live without?

Right now, conditioning hair masks.



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